Mount Carmel was associated with the prophet Elijah even before Christianity was established. It is a coastal mountain range in northern Israel stretching from the Mediterranean Sea towards the southeast. Elijah challenges 450 prophets of Baal and this was the temporary abode of prophet Elisha. The followers of Elijah continued to lead a life of penance on this mount after his death. The history tells that these disciples came to Jerusalem and received baptism from the apostles. A Carmelite monastery was founded at the site shortly after the Order itself was created, and was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of “Star of the Sea”.
The History of Scapular
Simon Stock, unable to bear the torture of the Carmel Order at the hand of the Muslims was praying to Mother Mary and on July 16th in the year 1251 Mary appeared to him. The Virgin appeared to him holding the Scapular in her hand saying, ‘This is for you and yours a privilege; the one who dies in it will not fall in eternal fire.
Privilege of Wearing the Scapular Worthily
The Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel has promised to save those who wear the scapular from the fires of hell; She will also shorten their stay in purgatory if they should pass from this world still owing some debt of punishment.
Mary will come down to personally deliver the souls of the devotees of the Scapular and out of Purgatory on the first Saturday after their death.
Saints on the Power of the Scapular
Pope John Paul II had a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary from his childhood, and, as such, he faithfully wore a scapular. He is reported to have worn a brown scapular since he was a boy. He goes on to say that the Scapular is a protection of Mother Mary while living in this world and leads us to eternal life as well.
St Alphonsus Liguori says that Mother Mary rejoices when she sees people wearing the Scapular.
The Scapular of Carmel is the garment of Mother Mary (St Therese of Lisieux).
The Scapular is a symbol of eternal protection. If one dies wearing it will not be condemned to hell (St Anslem).
I want to die on a Saturday because on the very day because of the Scapular I will attain Salvation (St John of the Cross).
Two great founders of the Religious Orders, St. Alphonsus of the Redemptorists and St. John Bosco of the Salesians, had a very special devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel and both wore the Scapular. When they died each was buried in priestly vestments and Scapular. Many years later their when graves were opened, the bodies and sacred vestments in which they were buried were decayed – dust! But the Scapular each was wearing remained completely intact.
It is a great coincidence that the devotion to the Scapular and the Holy Rosary began at around the same time. To prove that the devotion to the Scapular is important Mother Mary appeared in Lourdes on 16th July 1858 on the feast of the Lady of Mount Carmel. In 1917 on October 17th Mother Mary appeared in Fathima in the form of Lady of Mount Carmel. The Scapular is one of the greatest gifts to mankind proving the love of Mother for the mankind.
Let us also pray to our Lady of Mount Carmel as St Simon prayed:
O most beautiful flower of Mt. Carmel, fruitful vine, splendor of heaven, blessed mother of the Son of God, immaculate virgin, assist us in our necessity. O star of the sea, help us and show us the way. Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who turn to you.